How one woman shows us that our lives do not end

by Stephen Sachs

Lois Tandy may have been in her nineties, but she could be shrewd and mischievous. In the many years I knew her, and Lois was a Fountain friend and supporter for over a decade, every encounter was a delightful mix of droll repartee and honest affection. We enjoyed each other’s company.      

Lois passed away one year ago this month, on December 4, 2021. Not long after, I was moved to learn that she had bequeathed some money from her estate to the Fountain Theatre. I had no idea she had arranged to make this gift. But I was not surprised.

By Los Angeles standards, Lois was not supremely wealthy. She lived alone in a modest three-bedroom house at the end of a street in Alta Dena. She dressed simply, wore little jewelry, and even less makeup. She had money in the bank, a comfortable sum. The marvelous thing about Lois was that she didn’t wait until the end of her life to give it away. She gave while she was living. She donated her time and her money to many.         

She volunteered everywhere and showed up for everything, particularly if it had to do with politics, human rights, animals, the environment, or the arts. Lois was a docent at the Huntington Library and gave tours of its sumptuous gardens. She often volunteered at the Gene Autry Museum. She gave her money to the World Wildlife Fund and the Audubon Society. To Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. To the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the L.A. Chamber Orchestra. And to the Fountain Theatre.

None of us like to think about the end of our lives. I sure don’t. But the older I get, the more I’m reminded. I’m now getting marketing postcards from Pierce Brothers Mortuary and Forest Lawn. My wife and I have made our will and laid out our financial planning. As John Lennon sang, “you don’t take nothing with you but your soul.” But I think maybe you don’t even take that. I think your soul stays behind, too. In the people you love, the causes you help, and the lives you change. I believe there’s some measure of Lois’ soul in every play she supported at the Fountain, in the heart of each student in the arts education programs she helped fund. To me, that’s a legacy. That is immortality. Maybe, the kind we only get.

Stephen Sachs is the Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.

For information on how you can leave a bequest to The Fountain, please contact our development department at 323-663-1525 X 307.

Coming out of our caves to be together again

by Stephen Sachs

When I was eighteen, I saw Anthony Hopkins onstage as Dr. Martin Dysart in Equus at the Huntington Hartford Theatre on Vine Street in Hollywood. A section of the audience was seated on the stage. I sat there, just a few feet away from Hopkins’ colossal, jaw-dropping performance. It remains seared in my soul to this day. I would not have had that struck-by-lightning experience if I were sitting thirty feet away.

1976 – An “Equus” photo from the Richard Wojcik collection on Vintage Los Angeles

You never need to worry about that at the Fountain. We believe closeness, to art and to people, is everything. After two years of forced separation, you and I are back together and going strong. Now with two busy theaters, inside and outdoors, we are leading the way with new plays, music and dance concerts, and life-changing arts education programs for young people.

Yes, our theatre seats inside are outdated (more on that in a moment). Still, it sure feels good to sit collectively at the Fountain once again, just a few feet from the stage, being transported by an urgent, meaningful story expressed by actual human beings. Not on a screen.

That means coming out of our caves. Like Elijah. When he isolated himself in a mountain to retreat from the world, a Divine Voice said to him, “What are you doing in here, Elijah? Get out!” As Joan Didion urged, our task in the world isn’t to suffer in it, not to just pass through it, but to live in it. To live recklessly, take chances. To jump into the deep end of life and swim in it.

Like an embrace, theatre is a collaborative act. It takes away the aloneness of the world. It repairs. Think about it. What happens when you hold someone close? You feel them. The in-out of their breathing, the beat of their heart on your chest. That is what good intimate theatre does.

The Fountain’s heart keeps beating strong because of large and small donations from people like you. Private giving like yours is essential. Your year-end contribution of $100 or more today will help lift us into the coming year as we march forward into 2023. So, what’s coming? A smart comedy from Broadway, a summer musical outdoors, a thought-provoking drama in the fall. Plus chamber music, jazz, and flamenco. And here’s the kicker: we are installing NEW SEATS indoors! Brand-new comfy chairs, which you’re going to love.

Like a hug, we can’t do it alone. We need you to give of yourself. As a nonprofit, 80% of our income comes from contributions from good people like you. Seize the moment. Jump back into life. Support what you see on our stage, in a classroom, and/or be part of our history by having your name engraved on a plaque on a seat. Click here to find out how.

Wherever you wish to direct your giving, whatever the amount, your donation and friendship are priceless.

Onward!

Stephen Sachs is the Founding Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.

Fountain Theatre gives women a voice with free readings of ‘My Body, No Choice’ Nov 2 & 3

Performance on Nov. 3 will be live-streamed

Following last summer’s triumphant readings of Lisa Loomer’s Roe and with the midterm elections upon us, The Fountain Theatre once again jumps into action to give women a voice. The Fountain joins 20 theaters and universities across the U.S. to present two evenings of My Body, No Choice, staged readings of monologues commissioned by Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage. Eight of America’s most exciting female playwrights share what choice means to them through the telling of fiction and non-fiction stories rooted in personal experience.

Written by Lee Cataluna, Fatima Dyfan, Lisa Loomer, Dael Orlandersmith, Sarah Ruhl, Mary Hall Surface, V (formerly Eve Ensler), and “Anonymous.” Directed by Judith Moreland. Starring Veralyn Jones, Tamika Katon-Donegal, Jenny O’Hara, Amy Pietz, Pam Trotter.

Reserve your FREE seats now.

Fountain Theatre welcomes Sherrick O’Quinn as Theatre Education Manager

The Fountain Theatre is pleased to add Sherrick O’Quinn to its staff as Theatre Education Manager. In the newly-created position, Mr. O’Quinn is responsible for cultivating and strengthening all strategic community educational partnerships for The Fountain Theatre, enhancing its profile as an arts education leader in Los Angeles. Most important, he will oversee the theatre’s various arts education programs under the banner, Fountain for Youth. The programs include Walking the Beat and Fountain Voices.

Sherrick O’Quinn is an actor, educator, minister, and artist originally from Louisville, KY. He began his career in Louisville, KY working on stage and in film, TV, commercials and voiceover prior to moving to Los Angeles to complete his MFA in Acting degree at the University of Southern California. He formerly ran the GO College program which empowered and prepared at-risk high school students for college-going and career readiness prior to pursuing acting full-time. He spends his time acting, creating, coaching and working as a teaching artist. Sherrick is blessed to be part of Fountain Theatre’s mission to support and amplify diverse voices and create tangible change. His aim is to find intersections in art, work, and his daily life to be a change agent that encourages others to step into their voice, purpose, and light.

Back by popular demand, Fountain Theatre’s hit production ‘If I Forget’ extends to Dec. 18 

The Fountain Theatre’s hit production of If I Forget, written by Tony Award-winning playwright Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hanson) and directed by Tony Award-winning actor Jason Alexander (widely known from TV’s Seinfeld), has extended through December 18, re-opening at the end of October following a brief hiatus. At once deeply personal and political, If I Forget is a funny and complex tale that explores the lasting impact of the Holocaust on a Jewish family at the beginning of the 21st century. The widely acclaimed original cast returns to portray three adult siblings and their families who reunite to celebrate their father’s 75th birthday, with Richard Fancy taking over the role of patriarch Lou Fischer, a role he previously played in the 2018 Washington D.C. production. In addition to Fancy’s extensive stage career (Singin’ in the Rain on Broadway; Julia at 59e59th off-Broadway; lead roles in All My Sons and Death of a Salesman at Pacific Resident Theatre), Fancy is remembered for his role as Mr. Lippman on Seinfeld, where he worked alongside Mr. Alexander.

STAGE RAW TOP 10… ensconces themes relating to Jewish history and heritage into a funny, poignant domestic comedy.” — Stage Raw

UNFORGETTABLE… provocative, engaging, funny, poignant, mesmerizing… Definitely a must see!” —LA Theatrix

REMARKABLE… a richly real script and uniformly excellent acting combine in a riveting theater-going experience.” — Larchmont Buzz

DON’T MISS THIS ONEGO!— Performing Arts Live

RIVETING, NUANCED PERFORMANCES… crisp dialogue packed with opposing ideas… pathos and humor.” — Santa Monica Mirror

POWERFUL… will keep viewers talking long after the curtain drops.” — Splash magazines

WOW!… HILARIOUS AND HARROWING… one superb performance after another.” — Stage Scene LA

MEMORABLE COMPELLING AND RELEVANT… deep and intense think-pieces presented at the pace of screwball comedy.” — The Hollywood Times

URGENTLY IMPORTANT, BRILLIANTLY LYRICAL AND THEATRICAL… best mounting of a new American play I’ve seen done in 14 years.” — Ticket Holders LA

ANOTHER TRIUMPH FOR THE VENERABLE FOUNTAIN THEATRE… a play you won’t forget.” — Discover Hollywood

Get tickets.

Fountain Theatre to livestream final ‘hyper-staged’ reading of ‘Roe’ as free, public service

The Fountain Theatre will live stream the final performance of Roe by Lisa Loomer on Sunday, July 10 beginning at 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET. The event will be made available free of charge as a public service to audiences around the country. To receive a link, go to www.fountaintheatre.com.

Part outdoor rally, part call to action, part guerrilla theater, Roe is concluding a 3-week, sold-out run on the Fountain’s outdoor stage, where it is being presented as a “hyper-staged” reading.

Powerful, poignant and often humorous, Loomer’s play cuts through the headlines to reveal the real-life women—Norma McCorvey, known as “Jane Roe” and Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued the case—behind Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that gave women the right to safe, legal abortion. Fast-moving and fair-minded, Roe brings these two complicated human beings, the challenging years following the court’s fateful decision, and the polarization around the issue in America today into sharp focus.

“This live stream broadcast of our final performance will be the crowning event of this remarkable journey that started only one month ago,” says Fountain Theatre artistic director Stephen Sachs.“It is happening because people are passionate about this issue and care deeply about supporting the Fountain in our effort to give it a voice.”

The live stream is sponsored by The Center on Reproductive Health, Law, and Policy at the UCLA School of Law. The center is an innovative new division engaging with community organizations, scholars, lawmakers, practitioners and advocates on reproductive health, law and policy. For more information or to get involved, go to law.ucla.edu/academics/centers/center-reproductive-health-law-and-policy.

The seven-camera live stream will be directed by award-winning filmmaker, director and editor Jeff Richter of Beautiful Pictures Inc. and produced by Barbara Jacobs of Barbara Jacobs Events & Consulting. The director of photography is Chuck Ozeas. Equipment is being donated by Kemp Curly and Transition Productions. The camera crew is also donating their services, time and equipment to support this event.

CounterPunch calls Roe “a powerful, compelling, topical work of political theater about a pressing issue of the day presented by a talented ensemble,” and local L.A. theater site Stage Raw named it “One of the most vitally important pieces of theater in Los Angeles.”

For more information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.

Fountain Theatre earns 9 L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award nominations for excellence in 2020/21

The Fountain Theatre earned nine award nominations from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for excellence in 2020/21, it was announced yesterday. The Fountain’s Los Angeles premiere of An Octoroon on its Outdoor Stage, its groundbreaking livestream presentation of The Ballad of Emmett Till, and the L.A. debut of The Children were chosen for recognition.

LADCC nominations for the Fountain Theatre for 2020-2021:

  • Lead Performance – Matthew Hancock – An Octoroon
  • Featured Performance – Rob Nagle – An Octoroon
  • Writing Adaptation – Branden Jacobs-Jenkins – An Octoroon
  • Set Design – Frederica Nascimento – An Octoroon
  • Costume Design – Naila Aladdin-Sanders – An Octoroon
  • Fight Direction – Jen Albert – An Octoroon
  • Props – Michael Allen Angel – An Octoroon
  • Streaming Design & CGI – The Ballad of Emmett Till – Andrew Schmedake
  • Ensemble Performance – Ron Bottitta, Elizabeth Elias Huffman, Lily Knight – The Children

Out of an abundance of COVID caution, there will be no in-person ceremony. Instead, the award recipients will be named in a future press release in the upcoming weeks.

Congratulations to all of the nominees! Click here for the complete list.

Lisa Loomer’s play tells “shocking” true story behind Roe v. Wade

More info

NOW CASTING: Child actress to play ten-year-old Emily in staged reading of “Roe” on Outdoor Stage

The Fountain Theatre is seeking a skilled young actress for the role of Emily in the fast-moving staged reading of ROE by Lisa Loomer. Vanessa Stalling directes the large cast in ten public performances presented on the Fountain’s Theatre’s Outdoor Stage June 25 to July 10, in response to the looming Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade.

ROE is A powerful, poignant, and often humorous play that cuts through the headlines to reveal the real-life women behind Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that gave women the right to safe, legal abortion. A fast-moving, fair-minded look at the complicated human beings behind the case, the challenging years that followed the court’s fateful decision, and the polarization around the issue in America today.

Note: The script contains profanity (not spoken by the child actress), adult themes, and mature material.

NOW CASTING:

EMILY: 7 to 10 years old, white female. Sweet, earnest, loving, open, devoutly Christian.

Rate of Pay: AEA 99-Seat Contract

Submission Deadline: 06/07/2022. Actors will be asked to submit self-tape auditions.

This casting notice has been released on Breakdown Serives and Actors Access.

Submit headshot & resume to: casting@fountaintheatre

Last chance! The Fountain Theatre’s hit world premiere production, Detained, to close on May 15

The cast of Detained. Photo by Jenny Webb.

After a long list of rave reviews and a successful run of nearly three months, the Fountain Theatre’s world premiere production of the gripping docudrama, Detained, comes to an end on Sunday, May 15th. The final performances of Detained are May 9 and 14 at 8pm, and May 15 at 2pm. Special $10 tickets are available on a limited, first come/first-served basis.

Originally commissioned by immigration attorney Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and written by The Lillys 2021 Lorraine Hansberry Award-winning playwright France-Luce Benson, Detained explores the heartbreak and fierce determination of families fighting to stay together while mass deportation and harsh U.S. immigration legislation become ever more dedicated to keeping them apart. It is both a devastating, in-depth look at everyday people caught in the punishing web of harsh immigration policies, and a celebration of the courage and conviction of those struggling against an often coldblooded institution that seems to have lost sight of its former humanity.

Former cast member Michael Uribes was unable to continue with the show, so Jose Fernando (Daniel’s Husband) has temporarily relinquished his duties as Fountain Theatre House Manager to join the cast of Detained. “It feels great to be switching gears and joining the Detained family in this capacity,” he said. “As someone who immigrated to this country, and has friends and family affected by the politics surrounding immigration, this show is very real to me. It allows me an opportunity to give a voice to our lived experiences.”

Jose Fernando joins the ensemble cast of Detained

Fernando, along with company members Liana Aráuz, Camila Betancourt Ascencio, Christine Avila, Will Dixon, Jan Munroe, Theo Perkins and Marlo Su, bring to life a variety of characters based on real-life U.S. detainees, their families and supporters, and ICE representatives – all of whom were interviewed by Benson. These characters include a teenage foodie aspiring “chef-lebrity,” a U.S. Veteran, and a mother of two who works as a roofer in New York City.

“This play is a living document, and I’m constantly updating it,” Benson says. “People think that now that Biden is president, things are better. But thousands of people are still facing deportation every day. Many of these people have been living in this country for decades. They own houses, run businesses, pay taxes, have families.”

“No theatre complex in LA has been as staunchly dedicated to social relevance and fighting for equality and justice than the Fountain.”

Ticket Holders LA

The Los Angeles Times notes that, “In familiarizing theatergoers with the immense toll these policies take on individuals and their loved ones, the play reminds us that human rights abuses are more than a talking point… The message of the play comes through loud and clear in (director Mark) Valdez’s staging.” Ticket Holders LA proclaims that, “no theatre complex in LA has been as staunchly dedicated to social relevance and fighting for equality and justice than the Fountain.” TotalTheater.com calls Detained, “Brave and shocking… masterfully directed…” and declares, “The people whose stories are memorialized here remind all of us that we have the power to dismantle a corrupt, inhuman system.” And Showmag.com decrees, “it’s enough to make a person want to run for office… meticulous performance values… every element coalesces into a smooth, almost magazine style of presentation… the play performs an important function to awaken all of us to a system that has grown out of control.” Click here for more reviews and for a list of organizations where you can take action.

Good seats still remain for the final performances of Detained. And to celebrate the last days of the show that People’s World calls “deeply affecting” and “yet another triumph in (the Fountain’s) long line of work,” a limited number of special $10 tickets have been made available with the promo code “Final2.” Don’t miss out — act now!

Please note: All Covid protocols are followed. Proof of both vaccination and booster (if eligible) are required for admission. Masks are strongly encouraged. Snug, surgical-grade respirator masks (N-95/KN-95/KF-94) that cover both mouth and nose are preferred, but blue surgical masks are acceptable. Cloth masks are no longer approved.

For reservations and information call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.fountaintheatre.com.